"ScreenPlay" is the first collection of essays devoted to exploring the relationship between cinema and video games. It attempts to introduce the field of video game studies while also increasing our understanding of the two artforms. Although not all of the essays are models of clear thinking on the subject, the volume will be a valuable resource for those working in film, philosophy, new media, and video game studies. Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska have brought together a diverse collection (...) of essays where the productive approaches stand out clearly. As a result, one of the most important achievements of the volume is that it allows us to compare methodologies in order to see the kinds of research programs that add the most to our understanding of moving pictures. (shrink)
Proposes a shift in thinking about the connection of Malick's filmmaking and the philosophy of Heidegger. My approach considers Heidegger's philosophy of art in order to develop some outlines of a Heideggerian philosophy of film. I also consider some aspects of Terrence Malick's films viewed as exemplar instances of the philosophical theory of film Heidegger's work can support.
Theory appears to have played the ideological-institutional role of enfranchiser, even if the role was ulti-mately an epiphenomenal one. Furthermore, the expectation of gold in "them thar hills" also encouraged too many university presses to invest in film publications, especially when the arcane peregrinations of Theory facilitated their rationalization of their relaxation of their traditional role as academic gatekeepers. Hence film studies has been flooded with repetitive decoctions of the Theory in search of the same market in much (...) the same way that con-sumers are confronted with so many marginally differentiated shampoos. (shrink)
Many films are made by a two-tier process: the photographing of events which themselves represent the story the film tells. The latter representation is often illusionistic. I explore two consequences. The first concerns what we see in film. I argue that we sometimes see in such films, not events representing the story told, but simply the events composing that story. The way is thereby opened to a unified aesthetic of film, whether made the two-tier way or not. (...) The second consequence is that, since we see these films as photographic, we sometimes experience them as photographic recordings of the events, possibly fictional, that compose the story told. (shrink)
At the Intersection of High and Mass Culture analyses the contradictions and interaction between high and low art, with particular reference to Hollywood and European cinema. Written in the essayist, speculative tradition of Walter Benjamin and Theodore Adorno, this study also includes analyses of several key films of the 1980s. Tracing the boundaries of such genres as film noir, science fiction and melodrama, it demonstrates how these genres were radically expanded by such filmmakers as Neil Jordan, Chris Merker and (...) Georges Franju. This work also reflects on kitsch, the star system, racial and gender stereotypes, and the nature of audience participation. While defining the conditions under which the symbiotic relationship between high and mass culture can be cross-fertilising, this study stresses their inevitably contradictory characteristics. (shrink)
Marguerite Clark as Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1918). Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel Vargas in Touch of Evil (1958). Mizuo Peck as Sacagawea in Night at the Museum (2006). From the early days of cinema to its classic-era through to the contemporary Hollywood age, the history of cinema is replete with films in which the racial (or ethnic) background of a principal character does not match the background of the actor or actress portraying that character. I call this actor-character (...) race-mismatching. In this paper, I mainly explore whether a coherent and plausible account can be given of race-matching in terms of purely aesthetic considerations, i.e., an account that absent moral considerations can nevertheless coherently and productively answer the following questions: can race-mismatching itself ever be an aesthetic defect of a film, and if so, under what conditions can race-mismatching be such an aesthetic defect. I claim that once we have in place a precise account of the nature of race-matching, it becomes clear that films for which race-mismatching appears to constitute an aesthetic defect are actually films with which properly engaging requires audiences to satisfy inconsistent epistemic conditions. In such cases, I claim, race mismatching constitutes an aesthetic defect for the film-fiction because—in virtue of the inconsistency underwritten by the race-mismatching—that film-fiction undermines the very uptake it prescribes. I then argue that if what’s defective about race-mismatching aesthetically is predicated on something being defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then if there is nothing in principle defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then so too for mismatching aesthetically (and so too for mismatching morally). From this I conclude that reasons stemming only from race-matching/mismatching itself lack the normative force sufficient to warrant the claim that film-fictions ought not race-mismatch. (shrink)
Philosophy, and in particular continental philosophy, has provided a conceptual underpinning for cinema since its beginnings, especially in the development of cinematic aesthetics. In its turn, film has rethought the abstractions of space and time and the categories of sex and gender and has created new concepts which illuminate phenomenology, metaphysics and epistemology. -/- Film, Theory and Philosophy brings together leading scholars to provide a detailed overview of the key thinkers who have shaped the field of film (...) philosophy. The thinkers include continental philosophers, “post-continental” philosophers, analytic philosophers, film-makers, film reviewers, sociologists, and cultural theorists. The essays reveal how philosophy can be applied to film analysis and how film can be used to illustrate philosophical problems. But more importantly, the essays explore how film has shaped what philosophy thinks and how philosophy has lead to a reappraisal of film. The book will prove an invaluable reference and guide to readers interested in a deeper understanding of the issues and insights presented by film philosophy. (shrink)
I argue that Dilworth has not shown the type / token theory of film identity to be non-viable, since there is no reason to think that a single object cannot be a token of two types. Even if we assume a single inheritance view of types, Dilworth's argument runs into other problems. Dilworth does not provide any convincing argument as to why intentions are necessary for identifying film and why production history alone will not suffice for identifying hardly (...) conceivable forgeries. Intention is not necessary for distinguishing between fakes and the real thing, nor is it necessary to differentiate between two artworks with the same token. Moreover, taking the notion of intentions into consideration leads to a splintering problem. I propose that production history, presentation, and non-numerical template identity suffice to identify a film on a multiple inheritance type / token theory. (shrink)
This book is an easy-to-read, fun and provocative discussion of how to understand, appreciate, and evaluate film. Written by professor and film guru Michael Gose, the book is loved by students and moviegoers alike.
Introduction -- An improbable alliance : Peter Wollen's "The auteur theory" -- Visual stylometry : Barry Salt's "Statistical style analysis of motion pictures" -- Between Shakespeare and Sirk : Thomas Elsaesser's "Tales of sound and fury: observations on the family melodrama" -- From iconicity to semiotic articulation : Christian Metz's "cinema: language or language system?" and language and cinema -- Film as a specific signifying practice : Stephen Heath's "On screen, in frame: film and ideology" -- Against theories (...) of reflection : Laura Mulvey's "Visual pleasure and narrative cinema" -- Early cinema spectatorship : Tom Gunning's "The cinema of attraction(s): early film, its spectator, and the avant-garde" -- Another Lacan : "the universal: suture revisited" -- The death of the camera : Edward Branigan's "What is a camera?" -- Conclusion: teaching theory. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- PART I: CRITICAL PRACTICE -- The Critical Practice of Film -- PART II: FILM FORM -- Narrative Film -- Documentary Film -- PART III: TECHNIQUES OF FILM -- Cinematography -- Mise-en-Scène -- Sound -- Editing -- Music -- PART IV: ANALYSIS AND CRITICAL PRACTICE -- Interpretation and Analysis of Film -- Critical Practice in Action.
Introduction -- The dialectic's narrow margin: film noir between Adorno and Hegel -- On critical theory's dialectical dilemma -- a configuration pregnant with tension: Fritz Lang for critical theory -- Coda: the enjoyment of film in theory.
I argue for a position close to what Paisley Livingston calls the bold thesis of cinema as philosophy. The bold thesis I defend is that films can make innovative, independent philosophical contributions by paradigmatic cinematic means. I clarify the thesis before presenting what Livingston thinks is a fatal problem for any similar position—the problem of paraphrase. As an example in defense of the bold thesis, I offer the "For God and Country" sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s October (1928). I argue that (...) this scene offers an analogical argument similar in form to what some think Nietzsche presents in the Genealogy of Morality. Moreover, I argue that the argument presented in October is independent, could have been innovative, and is presented via the paradigmatic cinematic means of montage. (shrink)
Can some films be genuine thought experiments that challenge our commonsense intuitions? Certain filmic narratives and their mise-en-scène details reveal rigorous reasoning and counterintuitive outcomes on philosophical issues, such as skepticism or personal identity. But this philosophical façade may hide a mundane concern for entertainment. Unfamiliar narratives drive spectator entertainment, and every novel cinematic situation could be easily explained as part of a process that lacks motives of philosophical elucidation. -/- The paper inverses the above objection, and proposes that when (...) the main cinematic character resists spectator engagement (a crucial source of cinematic entertainment), emotionally challenged spectators also question their commonsensical beliefs about his/her actions, and detect a conceptually novel situation as such. -/- A case study is Mike Leigh’s film Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), in which the main female character presents an unrelenting but eccentric version of 'feel good' happiness. Spectators gradually detect that the previously unexamined, commonsensical version of subjective happiness comes at the price of individual eccentricity, and that the choice of a subjective theory of happiness leads to consequences hitherto unacknowledged. (shrink)
In 2002, a remake of the 1975 film Rollerball was released in theaters. It flopped at the box-office, disappearing quickly from movie screens and reappearing shortly thereafter on home video. While aesthetically horrendous, the remake of Rollerball is instructive, as it provides a point of contrast to the original film, highlighting a change in our culture’s manner of engagement with the difficult philosophical problem of nihilism. Both films share a roughly similar plot, yet in the differing manners that (...) they explore and develop that plot, we can glimpse two separate ways in which nihilism may be discovered, confronted and dealt with. (shrink)
Introduction -- Trapped by oneself in Jacques Tourneur's Out of the past -- "A deliberate, intentional fool" in Orson Welles's The lady from Shanghai -- Sexual agency in Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street -- "Why didn't you shoot again, baby?": concluding remarks.
Introduction -- Time and matter: temporality, embodied subjectivity and film phenomenology -- Knowing and nothing: Chris Marker, subjective temporalities and vocalic bodies in the future tense -- Agnès Varda's Trinket box: subjective relationality, affect and temporalised space -- Burlesque gestures and bodily attention: phenomenologies of the ephemeral in Chantal Akerman -- Threatened corporealities: thinking with the films of Philippe Grandrieux -- Conclusion: rethinking cinematic subjectivity and beyond.
In Film and Phenomenology, Allan Casebier develops a theory of representation first indicated in the writings of the father of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, and then applies it to the case of cinematic representation. This work provides one of the clearest expositions of Husserl's highly influential but often obscure thought. It also demonstrates the power of phenomenology to illuminate the experience of the art form unique to the twentieth-century cinema. Film and Phenomenology is intended as an antidote to all (...) hitherto existing theories about the nature of cinematic representation, whether issuing from classic sources such as the film theory of Andre Bazin or the post-structuralist synthesis of Lacanian psychoanalysis, Barthesian textual analysis and Metzean cine-semiotics. Casebier shows how a phenomenological account of representation will further the aims of any film theory. Developing a viable feminist film theory, legitimizing the documentary, answering the challenge of Derridean deconstruction, properly theorizing narrativity, Film and Phenomenology argues that theory of film must be Realist both with respect to epistemology and ontological issues. In this way, this work runs contrary to the whole course of contemporary film theory which has been deeply anti-Realist. (shrink)
This is a book about the nature of film: about the nature of moving images, about the viewer's relation to film, and about the kinds of narrative that film is capable of presenting. It represents a very decisive break with the semiotic and psychoanalytic theories of film which have dominated discussion over the last twenty years. The central thesis is that film is essentially a pictorial medium and that the movement of film images is (...) real rather than illusory. A general theory of pictorial representation is presented, which insists on the realism of pictures and the impossibility of assimilating them to language. It criticises attempts to explain the psychology of film viewing in terms of the viewer's imaginary occupation of a position within the world of film. On the contrary, film viewing is nearly always impersonal. (shrink)
This volume of new essays energizes a growing movement in film theory which questions and seeks to overturn many of the assumptions that have governed film theory for the last twenty years. The book brings together film scholars and philosophers in a united commitment to the standards of argumentation that characterize analytic philosophy rather than a single doctrinal approach. The essays address such topics as authorship, emotion, ideology, representation, and expression in film.
This essay argues that film as a medium breaks through the clearly delineated boundaries between realism and anti-realism that have been established by film theory. Film itself is basically indifferent to each. As an alternative to both, I put forward a thesis of indeterminism, which argues that films engender a unique event of sight and sound that does not have to be perceived to be a real event or an illusion of such an event.
Can concepts such as loyalty and integrity remain intrinsically valuable personal traits even as we devote ourselves to that which requires the loyalty in the first place (the greater good)? Does utilitarian deliberation rest on too extreme a notion of impartiality - one that focuses exclusively on the consequences of actions, leaving people, in the words of Bernard Williams, "mere faceless numbers"? Using the film Casablanca as an extended analogy, this article attempts to reconcile the concept of loyalty to (...) a cause, as described by Josiah Royce, with Williams's argument that personal integrity can remain part of even utilitarian thought processes. (shrink)
Examines the overlap between film and philosophy in three distinct ways: epistemological issues in film-making and viewing; aesthetic theory and film; and film as a medium of philosophical expression. This title available in eBook format. Click here for more information . Visit our eBookstore at: www.ebookstore.tandf.co.uk.
In Projecting a Camera, film theorist Edward Branigan offers a groundbreaking approach to understanding film theory. Why, for example, does a camera move? What does a camera "know"? (And when does it know it?) What is the camera's relation to the subject during long static shots? What happens when the screen is blank? Through a wide-ranging engagement with Wittgenstein and theorists of film, he offers one of the most fully developed understandings of the ways in which the (...) camera operates in film. With its thorough grounding in the philosophy of spectatorship and narrative, Projecting a Camera takes the study of film to a new level. With the care and precision that he brought to Narrative Comprehension and Film , Edward Branigan maps the ways in which we must understand the role of the camera, the meaning of the frame, the role of the spectator, and other key components of film-viewing. By analyzing how we think, discuss, and marvel about the films we see, Projecting a Camera, offers insights rich in implications for our understanding of film and film studies. (shrink)
Intuitively, some films qualify as artworks and others do not. Few would deny that Un Chien Andalou qualifies as art, while many would feel little temptation to apply this honorific to the average Hollywood blockbuster, television melodrama, or sleazy porn flick. But what marks the boundary? When is film art? Some might restrict the label to avant garde cinema, European art house films, and video installations, while others are inclined to expand the category to include films intended for wide (...) audiences, including Anthony Mann’s noirs, Sergio Leone’s westerns, and Mario Bava’s masterworks of low- brow horror. Some have even suggested that the art/non-art boundary does not exist. All film is art, though some of it is better art or higher art. How, if at all, should be draw the line? This, it turns out, is not just a question for those with a special interest in film. It has interest for aesthetic theory more broadly, because film can serve as a test case for definitions of art. Some theories of art seem too restrictive, because they prevent us from classifying certain films that are aesthetic masterpieces into the category of art. (shrink)
Any analysis of "In the Company of Men" is forced to answer three questions of central importance to the ethics of humor: (1) What does it mean to find sexist humor funny? (2) What are the various sources of humor? And, (3) can moral flaws with attempts at humor increase their humorousness? I argued that although merely finding a joke funny in a neutral context cannot tell you anything reliable about a person's beliefs, in context, a joke may reveal a (...) great deal about one’s social attitudes, or feelings of insecurity. Especially in its portrayal of Howard, the film exposes the role of insecurity as a source of humor. Not only can insecurity make one more prone to laugh, but it can also make someone seem funnier in some contexts. I contended that this shows that a strong version of the superiority theory of humor is clearly wrong. Furthermore, the disparate audience reactions to Chad's jokes showed that the morally sensitive who were aware of the purpose of his jokes would see them as ethically flawed. Rather than making the jokes more amusing, the fact that the jokes were considered to be ethically flawed made them less funny. Hence, immoralism is most likely false. (shrink)
Aims to improve an understanding of the theoretical issues in response to the influence of fiction. Four things in narrative unreliability; Relation between narration in literary fictions and film; Comprehension of narrative essentially a matter of intentional inference; Fictions misdescribed; Asymmetry between literature and film; Ambiguity and unreliability; Implied author and narrator.
In Metaphor and Film, Trevor Whittock demonstrates that feature films are permeated by metaphors that were consciously introduced by directors. An examination of cinematic metaphor forces us to reconsider the nature of metaphor itself, and the ways by which such visual imagery can be recognised and understood, as well as interpreted. Metaphor and Film identifies the principal forms of cinematic metaphor, and also provides an analysis of the mental operations that one must bring to it. Recent developments in (...) cognitive psychology, especially those relating to the nature and formation of categories, are called upon to explain these processes. Metaphor and Film ranges widely over film theory as it does over philosophical, literary, linguistic, and psychological accounts of metaphor. Particularly useful to those studying film, literature, and aesthetics, this study is also a provocative contribution to an important debate in which film theorists and philosophers are currently engaged. (shrink)
Some films scare us; some make us cry; some thrill us. Some of the most interesting films, however, leave us suspended between feelings – both joyous and sad, or angry and serene. This paper attempts to explain how this can happen and why it is important. I look closely at one film that creates and exploits these conflicted responses. I argue that cases of conflict in film illuminate a pair of vexing questions about emotion in film: (1) (...) To what extent are emotional responses rational, or in need of rationalization?; and (2) What relationship is there between emotional response and value (moral, filmic, or otherwise)? Conflict, I argue, can be revealing, and can help us better understand emotional responses to narrative film1 in general. The paper is divided into four sections. First, I sketch a theory of emotional engagement that makes sense of the notion of a “conflicted emotional response” to a film. Second, I turn to a particular case of a film that produces this sort of conflict, Fritz Lang’s M (1931), and show that the conflict engendered by that film is both more significant and less unusual than it may appear. In the final two sections, I argue that there is no need to rationalize or make consistent such mixed emotional responses, and that there is real moral, aesthetic, and cognitive value to be had from such conflict. (shrink)
Upon its release in 1968, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead was attacked by many critics as an exploitative low budget film of questionable moral value. I argue in this paper that Night of the Living Dead is indeed nihilistic, but in a deeper philosophical sense than the critics had in mind.
This is the first book to explore and address the philosophical aspects of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Beginning with a helpful introduction that places each essay in context, specially commissioned chapters examine the following topics: -/- * Philosophical issues surrounding love, friendship, affirmation and repetition * The role of memory (and the emotions) in personal identity and decision-making * The morality of imagination and ethical importance of memory * Philosophical questions about self-knowledge and knowing the minds of others (...) * The aesthetics of the film considered in relation to Gondry’s other works and issues in the philosophy of perception. (shrink)
It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) presents a plausible theory of the meaning of life: One's life is meaningful to the extent that it promotes the good. Although this theory is credible, the movie suggests a problematic refinement in the Pottersville sequence. George's waking nightmare asks us to compare the actual world with a world where he did not exist. It tells us that we are only responsible for the good that would not exist had we not existed. I argue (...) that this is a bad test. It fails when there are redundant causes. (shrink)
It is widely held in theories of narrative that all works of literary narrative fiction include a narrator who fictionally tells the story. However, it is also granted that the personal qualities of a narrator may be more or less radically effaced. Recently, philosophers and film theorists have debated whether movies similarly involve implicit audio-visual narrators. Those who answer affirmatively allow that these cinematic narrators will be radically effaced. Their opponents deny that audio-visual narrators figure in the ontology of (...) movies at all, and many have argued that the ‘effaced’ literary narrator is an illusion as well. In this paper, I attempt to sort out the central issues that arise in these debates, defending the existence of effaced narrators in both literature and film. (shrink)
Gregory Currie, arguing against recent psychoanalytic and semiotic film theory, has defended various realist theses about film. The strongest of these is that ‘weak illusionism’—the view that the motion of film images is an illusion—is false. That is, Currie believes film images really do move. In this paper I defend the common-sense position of weak illusionism, firstly by showing that Currie underestimates the power of some arguments for it, especially one based on the mechanics of projection, (...) and secondly by showing that film images exhibit neither garden-variety motion, nor a special response-dependent kind. (shrink)
When most people sit down to watch a film, their focus usually stays on the very dynamic images that move onscreen. The dialogue, as a form of diegetic sound, is probably the next piece of the film they concentrate on, but this only imitates actual experience, since most people understand communication by both watching and listening. Christian Metz, in his influential text Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema, describes film as “Born of the fusion of (...) several pre-existing forms of expression, which retain some of their own laws (image, speech, music, and noise),” to which he later adds “written materials” as a fifth component.1 Of these five channels of information included in film, music is the most artificial .. (shrink)
The increasingly popular idea that cinematic fictions can "do" philosophy raises some difficult questions. Who is actually doing the philosophizing? Is it the philosophical commentator who reads general arguments or theories into the stories conveyed by a film? Could it be the film-maker, or a group of collaborating film-makers, who raise and try to answer philosophical questions with a film? Is there something about the experience of films that is especially suited to the stimulation of worthwhile (...) philosophical reflections? In the first part of this book, Paisley Livingston surveys positions and arguments surrounding the cinema's philosophical value. He raises criticisms of bold theses in this area and defends a moderate view of film's possible contributions to philosophy. In the second part of the book he defends an intentionalist approach that focuses on the film-makers' philosophical background assumptions, sources, and aims. Livingston outlines intentionalist interpretative principles as well as an account of authorship in cinema. The third part of the book exemplifies this intentionalist approach with reference to the work of Ingmar Bergman. Livingston explores the connection between Bergman's work and the Swedish director's primary philosophical source-a treatise in philosophical psychology authored by the Finnish philosopher, Eino Kaila. Bergman proclaimed that reading this book was a tremendous philosophical experience for him and that he "built on this ground." With reference to materials in the newly created Ingmar Bergman archive, Livingston shows how Bergman took up Kaila's topics in his cinematic explorations of motivated irrationality, inauthenticity, and the problem of self-knowledge. (shrink)
Projecting Illusion offers a systematic analysis of the impression of reality in the cinema and the pleasure it gives to the film spectator. Film provides a compelling experience that can be considered as a form of illusion akin to the experience of day-dream and dream. Examining the concept of illusion and its relationship to fantasy in the experience of visual representation, Richard Allen situates his explanation within the context of an analytical criticism of contemporary film and critical (...) theory. He argues that many contemporary film theorists correctly identify the significance of the impression of reality, although their explanation of it is incorrect because of an invalid philosophical understanding of the relationship between the mind, representation and reality. Offering a clear presentation and critique of the central arguments of contemporary film and critical theory, Allen also touches on fundamental issues in current discourses of philosophy, art history and feminist theory. (shrink)
Why does cinema exert such power over our emotions? Many have wanted to answer by appeal to the idea that film sustains some illusion concerning the events it narrates. I compare three such views: that film sustains the illusion that those events are before us; that it sustains that illusion, but only partially; and that, though viewers are always fully aware of seeing pictures, those pictures are experienced as the moving photographic record of the narrated events. I identify (...) these positions’ successes and failures in explaining film’s emotional power, and various ways in which the issue between them might be tested further. (shrink)
The most surprising conclusion of our analysis is that videogames can be most effective in generating suspense not by highlighting their unique ability to be interactive, but, to the contrary, limiting interactivity at key points, thereby turning players into helpless spectators like those that watch films. Discovering this technique in video games allows us to turn our attention back to film, where we are able to highlight a previously ignored feature of viewer film interaction, namely, helplessness.
Echoing Beardsley's trinity of unity, complexity, and intensity, Perkins develops three interrelated criteria on which to base an evaluation of film: credibility, coherence, and significance. I assess whether Perkins criteria of credibility serves as a useful standard for film criticism. Most of the effort will be devoted to charitably reconstructing the notion of credibility by bringing together some of Perkins' particular comments. Then I will briefly examine whether Perkins has successfully achieved his goal of developing standards of judgment (...) by holding credibility up to his own criteria of successful meta-criticism: "The clarification of standards should help to develop the disciplines of criticism without seeking to lay obligations on the film-maker" (p. 59). Although I argue that Perkins fails to achieve his goal, his criterion of credibility remains a useful mechanism for evaluating artistic attempts to achieve a particular end, namely spectator immersion. A limited domain of application for his criteria might seem to leave us with little more than an idiosyncratic expression of his classicist artistic taste, but Film as Film also contains valuable insights relevant to the so called "problem of imaginative resistance.". (shrink)
Husserl and Sartre’s analyses of mental imagery and some of the latest cognitive research on vision provide a framework for understanding a number of films by Hitchcock (Psycho and Rear Window) and Buñuel (Un Chien Andalou), films which similarly probe the subtleties and uses of mental imagery. One of the many ways to enjoy these films is to see them as explorations of visual phenomenology; they allow us to enact, as well as reflect upon, mental images as part of the (...)film experience.
This collection was inspired by the observation that film remakes offer us the opportunity to revisit important issues, stories, themes, and topics in a manner that is especially relevant and meaningful to contemporary audiences. Like mythic stories that are told again and again in differing ways, film remakes present us with updated perspectives on timeless ideas. While some remakes succeed and others fail aesthetically, they always say something about the culture in which_and for which_they are produced. Contributors explore (...) the ways in which the fears of death, loss of self, and bodily violence have been expressed and then reinterpreted in such films and remakes as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead, and Dawn of the Dead. Films such as Rollerball, The Ring, The Grudge, The Great Yokai Wars, and Insomnia are discussed as well because of their ability to give voice to collective anxieties concerning cultural change, nihilism, and globalization. While opening on a note that emphasizes the compulsion of filmmakers to revisit issues concerning fear and anxiety, this collection ends by using films like Solaris, King Kong, Star Trek, Doom, and Van Helsing to suggest that repeated confrontation with these issues allows the opportunity for creative and positive transformation. (shrink)
The film The Insider offers an interesting story of leaking inside information by one character and clear whistleblowing by another. In both cases moral considerations are involved on a personal, professional, organizational and public level. As such the film can be used as an inviting cinematic introduction to applied or practical ethics. Three models of practical ethics are introduced. In the film workshop these models are the framework for the film analysis. A set up of the (...) workshop is sketched, including selected scenes, basic questions and a timetable. Also a sketch is given of the results that can be expected. (shrink)
Conservative critics have united in attacking James Cameron’s newest blockbuster Avatar for its “liberal” political message. But underneath all of the manifest liberalism of Avatar there is also a latent message. In his valorization of the organic, primal, interconnectedness of Na’vi culture and his denigration of the mechanical, modern, disconnectedness of human culture, Cameron runs very close to advocating a form of fascism. -/- In this paper I describe the overarching philosophical perspective of fascism, and then I draw on the (...) work of Jay Y. Gonen, who, in his book The Roots of Nazi Psychology, has distilled Hitler’s foundational ideological values to nine basic principles. I demonstrate how greatly these principles overlap with the ideals that Cameron attributes to the culture of the Na’vi in his film Avatar. (shrink)
Do humans have free Will? What distinguishes morally right from morally wrong action? Does God exist? Does life have meaning? What is the ultimate nature of reality? What are the limits of human knowledge? Philosophy through Film offers a stimulating new way to explore the basic questions of philosophy. Each chapter uses a popular film to examine one such topic- from free will and skepticism to personal identity and artificial intelligence- in an approachable yet philosophically rigorous manner. A (...) wide range of films is employed all of which are readily available through major video rental chains. This unique and engaging introduction provides an exciting new way to learn about philosophy, and connects complicated philosophical questions to the familiar settings of popular culture. (shrink)
Global changes in capital, power, technology and the media have caused massive shifts in how we define home and community, leaving redrawn territories and globalized contexts. This interdisciplinary study of the media brings together essays by accomplished critics to discuss the way film, television, music, and computer and electronic media are shaping identities and cultures in an increasingly globalized world. Ranging from intensely personal to highly theoretical, the contributors explore our complex negotiation of "home" and homeland" in a postmodern (...) world. Contributors: Homi Bhabha, Thomas Elsaesser, Rosa Linda Fregoso, Teshome H. Gabriel, George Lipsitz, Margaret Morse, David Morley, John Peters, Patricia Seed, Ella Shohat, and Vivian Sobchack. (shrink)
This book explores Gilles Deleuze's contribution to film theory. According to Deleuze, we have come to live in a universe that could be described as metacinematic. His conception of images implies a new kind of camera consciousness, one that determines our perceptions and sense of selves: aspects of our subjectivities are formed in, for instance, action-images, affection-images and time-images. We live in a matrix of visual culture that is always moving and changing. Each image is always connected to an (...) assemblage of affects and forces. This book presents a model, as well as many concrete examples, of how to work with Deleuze in film theory. It asks questions about the universe as metacinema, subjectivity, violence, feminism, monstrosity, and music. Among the contemporary films it discusses within a Deleuzian framework are Strange Days, Fight Club, and Dancer in the Dark. (shrink)
In works of literary fiction, it is a part of the fiction that the words of the text are being recounted by some work-internal 'voice': the literary narrator. One can ask similarly whether the story in movies is told in sights and sounds by a work-internal subjectivity that orchestrates them: a cinematic narrator. George M. Wilson argues that movies do involve a fictional recounting (an audio-visual narration ) in terms of the movie's sound and image track. Viewers are usually prompted (...) to imagine seeing the items and events in the movie's fictional world and to imagine hearing the associated fictional sounds. However, it is much less clear that the cinematic narration must be imagined as the product of some kind of 'narrator' - of a work-internal agent of the narration. Wilson goes on to examine the further question whether viewers imagine seeing the fictional world face-to-face or whether they imagine seeing it through some kind of work-internal mediation . It is a key contention of this book that only the second of these alternatives allows one to give a coherent account of what we do and do not imagine about what we are seeing on the screen. Having provided a partial account of the foundations of film narration, the final chapters explore the ways in which certain complex strategies of cinematic narration are executed in three exemplary films: David Fincher's Fight Club , von Sternberg's The Scarlet Empress , and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There. (shrink)
The most important modes of film practice, in my view, are art-house cinema and the avant-garde, both of which contrast with the classical Hollywood mode of film practice. While the latter is characterized by its commercial imperative, corporate hierarchies, and a high degree of specialization as well as a division of labor, the avant-garde is an “artisanal” or “personal” mode. Avant-garde films tend to be made by individuals or very small groups of collaborators, financed either by the filmmakers (...) alone or in combination with private patronage and grants from arts institutions. Such films are usually distributed through film cooperatives and exhibited by film societies, museums, and universities. (Consequently .. (shrink)
This paper considers some problems with text-centered psychoanalytic and semiotic approaches to film that have dominated feminist film criticism, and develops an alternative contextual approach. I claim that a contextual approach should explore the interaction of film texts with viewers' culturally formed sensibilities and should attempt to render visible the plurality of meaning in art. I argue that the latter approach will allow us to see the virtues of some classical Hollywood films that the former approach has (...) overlooked, and I demonstrate this thesis with an analysis of the film Christopher Strong. (shrink)
Too often we relegate criticism of films to merely a rational or cognitive treatment of possible interpretations or meanings of the film under review. This is short sighted. After exploring the nature of the critical film review, this paper examines some of the potential vices that are found in film criticism today (such as “cerebralization,” “narrative fixation,” and “anticipatory blindness”), and highlights some of the virtues of a good film critic (such as “context sensitivity,” “aesthetic experiencing,” (...) and “value maximization”). (shrink)
Filmmakers use continuity editing to engender a sense of situational continuity or discontinuity at editing boundaries. The goal of this study was to assess the impact of continuity editing on how people perceive the structure of events in a narrative film and to identify brain networks that are associated with the processing of different types of continuity editing boundaries. Participants viewed a commercially produced film and segmented it into meaningful events, while brain activity was recorded with functional magnetic (...) resonance imaging (MRI). We identified three degrees of continuity that can occur at editing locations: edits that are continuous in space, time, and action; edits that are discontinuous in space or time but continuous in action; and edits that are discontinuous in action as well as space or time. Discontinuities in action had the biggest impact on behavioral event segmentation, and discontinuities in space and time had minor effects. Edits were associated with large transient increases in early visual areas. Spatial-temporal changes and action changes produced strikingly different patterns of transient change, and they provided evidence that specialized mechanisms in higher order perceptual processing regions are engaged to maintain continuity of action in the face of spatiotemporal discontinuities. These results suggest that commercial film editing is shaped to support the comprehension of meaningful events that bridge breaks in low-level visual continuity, and even breaks in continuity of spatial and temporal location. (shrink)
Fifteen years after the first translations of Anglo-American feminist film theories, this gender approach is finding it hard to gain acceptance in France. The main reason is the elitist view of cinema d’auteur that is still prevalent in academic circles, where the art is seen as a genius’s creation outside social determinations in general and gender relations in particular. However, under the influence of historians and sociologists, who dominate gender research in France, French work on film privileges a (...) historical and sociocultural approach, whereas American research is dominated by psychoanalytical approaches. French gender analyses privilege the expression of dominant relations but also of contradictions at work in the films, whether popular or by an auteur-e, as well as in the stars’ image or in tv fiction. Finally some research explores the changes brought about by the emergence of female film-makers on the French scene. (shrink)
Concepts in Film Theory is a continuation of Dudley Andrew's classic, The Major Film Theories. In writing now about contemporary theory, Andrew focuses on the key concepts in film study -- perception, representation, signification, narrative structure, adaptation, evaluation, identification, figuration, and interpretation. Beginning with an introductory chapter on the current state of film theory, Andrew goes on to build an overall view of film, presenting his own ideas on each concept, and giving a sense of (...) the interdependence of these concepts. Andrew provides lucid explanations of theories which involve perceptual psychology and structuralism; semiotics and psychoanalysis; hermeneutics and genre study. His clear approach to these often obscure theories enables students to acquire the background they need to enrich their understanding of film -- and of art. (shrink)
This article discusses some of the philosophical themes in the Hollywood film "The Truman Show." I argue that the film presents and interesting twist on the traditional philosophical problem of skepticism. Whereas Descartes' skeptical worries were based on the deceptive nature of sense perception, the source of illusion and skepticism in the Truman Show is the modern media system and "reality TV." This engaging film compels viewers to reflect upon the extent to which we are all ensnared (...) in a world of lies and deceit. (shrink)
Abstract Popular film has become a significant venue for meaning?making in modern society. Like religion, film provides models for understanding and behaving within the social world. Like religion, film reinforces this content through emotional resonance. Myths slip under a viewer's intellectual defenses in the non?threatening guise of entertainment. In a mainstream culture skeptical of religion, film presents an alternative mechanism for the transmission and processing of ?religious? ideas and ideals.
Through a discussion of Agnès Varda's career from 1954 to 2008 that focuses particularly on La Pointe Courte (1954), L'Opéra-Mouffe (1958), The Gleaners and I (2000), and The Beaches of Agnes (2008), this article considers the connections between Varda's filmmaking and her femaleness. It proposes that two aspects of Varda's cinema—her particularly perceptive portrayal of a set of geographical locations, and her visual and verbal emphasis on female embodiment—make a feminist existential-phenomenological approach to her films particularly fruitful. Drawing both directly (...) on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and on some recent film- and feminist-theoretical texts that have employed his insights, it explores haptic imagery and feminist strategy in The Gleaners and I, the materialization of space characterizing Varda's blurring of fiction and documentary, and the dialectical relationship of people with their environment often observed in her cinema. It concludes that both Varda's female protagonists and the director herself may be said to perform feminist phenomenology in her films, in their actions, movement, and relationship to space, and in the carnality of voice and vision with which Varda's own subjectivity is registered within her film-texts. (shrink)
Die Schrift ist im Film nicht nur durch Schriftobjekte (z. B. Briefe, Leuchtreklamen, Zeitungen) präsent, die der Diegese angehören. In Vor- und Abspann oder Zwischentitel hat sie vor allem im Stummfilm, aber auch in der Ära des Tonfilms ihren eigenen Raum. Von dort dringt sie bisweilen in den physikalischen Raum des Films ein, mitunter erscheint der Raum des Vorspanns etc. als 〉wirklicher〈 Raum. Interessant sind jene Fälle, in denen Buchstaben und Wörter ihrerseits den Gesetzen des physikalischen Raums, Bewegung und (...) Schwerkraft unterworfen zu sein scheinen. Dies führt zu Interferenzen und Paradoxien zwischen zwei inkompatiblen Logiken. German Writing is not only present in film through objects that belong to the diegesis (e.g. letters, neon signs, newspapers). In opening and closing credits as well as in intertitles, writing claims its own space - especially in silent movies, but also in the era of talkies. From there, it sometimes penetrates into the physical space of the film; at times the space of the opening credits appears as 〉real〈 space. Especially interesting are those cases in which letters and words seem to be themselves subjected to the laws of physical space, motion and gravity. This leads to interferences and paradoxes between two incompatible logics. (shrink)
The documentary film is a popular curriculum tool, and the goal of this paper is to expand the educational significance of the documentary genre. I argue that current understandings of this genre are limited and limiting, and offer an alternative perspective on the genre. This alternative will be built from Stanley Cavell's philosophy of education, in particular, his understanding of the role that ‘representativeness’ plays in teaching and learning.
Film, Samuel Beckett's 1964 short starring Buster Keaton, dubbed by Deleuze as ‘The Greatest Irish Film’, is a seminal text in the latter's cinematic canon as it helps us to extrapolate the transition from the Bergson-based movement-image of Cinema 1 to the Nietzschean time-image of Cinema 2. Film is unique insofar as its narrative traverses and progressively destroys the action-, perception- and affection-images that constitute the movement-image as a whole, using Keaton's body, and more importantly his face, (...) as a means of attaining a pure intensity or Entity abstracted from all spatio-temporal coordinates, a condition of exhaustion/saturation that Deleuze and Guattari call, ‘non-human becoming’. Beckett's film is predicated on Bishop Berkeley's fundamental philosophical principle, esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived) and, using Keaton as its protagonist, raises the question of whether it is possible to escape perception, not only by a third party, but also by oneself. The latter is ‘played’ by the camera itself, which ‘stalks’ Keaton from behind, taking great pains not to exceed a 45-degree ‘angle of immunity’ (lest Buster experience percipi or the anguish of perceivedness) until the film's final close-up when he comes face to face with his own self-perception and affective annihilation. Film's denouement thus deconstructs the very nature of conventional cinematic language, whereby filmic suture – the enfolding of character, camera and spectatorial ‘viewing-views’ into a unified field of vision – gives way to a perspective where, at the very moment that the perceptive/affective body dies, the work of filmic art gives birth to itself as a being of pure sensation, exceeding lived experience. (shrink)
Thomas Elsaesser claims the late Haneke as a director of ‘mind-game’ films, but his diagnosis of the appeal of such films fails to account for The White Ribbon . In this paper, I draw on the theory of radical interpretation developed by American philosopher Donald Davidson to uncover the film’s power. I argue that the focus on charity in Davidson’s account of the conditions under which an interpreter is able to find a foreign community intelligible illuminates the exquisite discomfort (...) the spectator experiences as she begins to understand the disturbed community that the film portrays. In addition, the film exposes that Davidson’s transcendental argument that language is a condition of mindedness ought to be extended along emotional and moral dimensions. We should not only hold that every rational mind is a language-user, but that every rational mind is an appropriate language-user, so as to account for minds that have true, justified beliefs but which are, nevertheless, disturbed. (shrink)
Since their publication, these books have had a profound impact on the study of film and philosophy. Film, media, and cultural studies scholars still grapple today with how they can most productively incorporate Deleuze's thought.
Analysing film. Distinguishing the filmic contribution to meaning -- Examples of filmic "textual organisation" -- Redrawing boundaries -- Organisation of the book -- Semiotics and documents. Semiotics and its relations to film -- The nature of discourse semantics -- The film as cinematographic document -- A combined view: filmic documents for filmic discourse -- Constructing the semiotic mode of film. Semiotic multimodality -- The internal organisation of semiotic strata -- Composing and combining semiotic modes -- Materiality (...) and "epistemological commitment" -- Christian Metz and the grande syntagmatique of the image track. The original model -- Two examples of analysis with the grande syntagmatique -- Revisions and rebuttals -- Foundations for analysis: filmic units. The basic units of film: preliminaries -- Audiovisual iconic representations -- Perception, perceptual realism and reliable measurement -- Multiplicity: from perception to discourse -- Filmic units revisited: discourse-motivated definitions -- The paradigmatic organisation of film. Beyond Metz: towards a grande paradigmatique -- Capturing discourse dependency structures in film -- The paradigmatic dimensions of projection, taxis and plane -- Two examples of paradigmatic analysis -- Summary and conclusions. (shrink)